Abravanel's nurturing the Utah Symphony grew from a part-time community
ensemble to a symphony orchestra of worldwide renown. He molded the
local character of the orchestra by importing very few artists from
outside of Utah. He fiercely defended his musicians, helping them achieve
full-time professional status. For years he lobbied for a permanent
home for the orchestra, equal to its reputation. Ironically, while he
was most influential in the building of Utah's acclaimed Symphony Hall,
renamed Abravanel Hall in his honor in 1993, he never raised his baton
there, retiring the season before its completion.
was dedicated to bringing great music to as many people as possible.
He led the orchestra on four successful international tours as well
as on tours throughout the West and to cities throughout America. He
brought the Symphony to prominence through recording contracts with
Vanguard, Vox, Angel, and CBS. He is the only conductor to have recorded
all the Mahler symphonies with the same orchestra. Many of the more
than one hundred Abravanel/Utah Symphony recordings are considered classics.
In addition to his dedication to Utah, Abravanel directed the Music
Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, from 1956 to 1979.
Starting in 1981 he has taught conducting at Tanglewood where he has
been appointed artist-in-residence for life. From 1970 to 1976 Abravanel
served on the National Council of the Arts. The Maestro also served
as the vice-chairman of the American Symphony Orchestra League, receiving
its most prestigious Golden Baton Award in 1981.